An introduction to slow, fast and rapid charging stations

With the uptake of electric cars on the rise in the UK, car owners are left with many questions regarding their new plug in electric vehicles. After the initial thrill of purchasing a carbon conscious car, thoughts often turn to: ‘how do you charge an electric car?’, ‘where are the free electric car charging stations?’ and ‘how long does it take to charge an electric car?’

The answers to these questions are varied, depending on which make and model of electric car you own, and what type of charging station you’re planning to use.

At the moment, around 90% of electric vehicle charging takes place at home via a dedicated home charging socket, which can be installed in homes with a garage or off-road parking capabilities. But, due to increased demand for charging stations over the past five years, there is now a nationwide network of public charging stations for plug in electric vehicles; with Ecotricity’s ‘Electric Highway’ providing free public charging stations throughout the UK.

There are currently four electric car charging options available: slow charging, fast charging, rapid AC charging and rapid DC charging (depending on whether your car requires an AC or DC connection).

Originally the most common in the UK, slow charging stations were introduced in the first wave of publicly accessible charging points, but are now being phased out in favour of fast and rapid charging points. However, many slow charging stations can still be found on the nation’s roads, and they are compatible with almost all electric vehicles. As indicated by the name, slow charging stations require the longest amount of time to fully charge a plug in electric vehicle.

Able to draw up to 3kW of power, slow charging stations typically take between six and eight hours to charge an electric car to full charge. This is why slow charging units are mostly used at home or work, and are utilised overnight, in order to take advantage of the off-peak electricity tariffs. Even though slow charging can be achieved through a standard single-phase 13 amp three pin domestic plug, it is recommended that a dedicated electric vehicle charging station is fitted by a qualified electrician, in order to achieve maximum amperage levels and a reduced charging time.

Over the past five years, fast charging stations have eclipsed slow charging stations in popularity and availability, due to the speed at which they can charge a plug in vehicle. Capable of providing a full charge in around three to four hours, fast charging points draw up to 7kW of electricity, and are compatible with most electric cars and vans. Fast charging points are more likely to be found at public charging stations up and down the country, including in city centres and long stay car parks, where members of the public can take advantage of so-called ‘destination charging’.

The quickest and most effective electric car charging points are rapid charging stations, which are available in both an AC and DC output. Drawing between 43 and 50kW of electricity, rapid charging stations can achieve an 80% charge in around 30 minutes.

Relatively new to the electric car charging market, rapid AC chargers are currently only available for a handful of electric cars in the UK, and many drivers prefer to use a rapid DC connection, which delivers a higher charge in a shorter time.

Much more common in the UK, rapid DC electric car charging stations have a typical charge of 50kW and are fitted with a choice of DC connectors: Japanese JEVS (CHAdeMO) and European Combined Charging (CCS).

CHAdeMo connectors are the most universally used, with car manufacturers such as Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi supporting these types of connections. However, CSS connectors are setting a new standard for rapid DC charging, and are being widely promoted by European and American electric car manufacturers.

It is worth noting that some electric cars don’t support rapid charging options; the Mercedes Benz B Class doesn’t have rapid charging capabilities, and the BMW i3 offers rapid charging capabilities as an optional extra.

Fast and rapid charging points

Have you recently purchased your first Tesla Model S or Nissan Leaf? Or considering buying your first electric vehicle? Although you’re already on your way to minimising your carbon tyre print, you are left with certain questions such as: ‘where can I charge my electric car?’, ‘what’s the difference between Fast and Rapid charging?’, and ‘how long does it take to charge an electric car?’

Let’s start with the basics. Electric vehicle (EV) charging points are categorised by how much energy they produce, which is measured in kW. This tells you what speed they can charge your electric car. If you know from your lifestyle that you need to get places quickly, then you may want to consider fast and rapid charging.
Fast car chargers are well suited to homes and businesses that are leaving their cars to charge overnight. AC fast charging points have lower installation and maintenance costs because they can be installed directly into your residential or workplace’s electricity supply.
If you are charging your EV at home, most manufacturers provide wall mounted charging stations with a fixed cable and a type one or two connector that you plug directly into the vehicle. Popular suppliers include the Chargemaster Homecharge and Solo Pod Point. Type one fast charging stations supply around 32 Amps or 7kW and most electric vehicles can accept them with the correct connector. Most fast charging units come with the versatile type two Mennekes or Commando supply side socket, although sometimes they provide a tethered cable with the non-removable type one (J1772) connector. On average, it takes approximately three to four hours to reach full charge although this depends on battery capacity.

Given the government’s workplace charging scheme, powering up your EV at work has never been more convenient. As the quick charge station needs to be compatible with a variety of different electric vehicles, the most common installation for businesses is the wall-mounted type two 7kW charger, which will fully charge a vehicle in three to four hours. Another option would be charging posts which are useful for street parking, but have higher installation costs.
Three phase fast charging often delivers around 22kW and is often only reserved for electric vans and buses that need much more power. Most commercial and public electric car charging stations now also use fast charging instead of slow, with 6209 fast connectors available nationally as of 2017.
Rapid DC chargers work on direct current and are the most common type of rapid charging point, particularly suited to electric car charging ‘on-the go’. You’ll find them in public places such as car parks, motorways, and city centres. As of 2017, there are around 1360 rapid DC connectors available across the UK. They can supply up to 50kW of power, which means that they can charge your EV to 80% in under half an hour. All rapid car charging stations provide a tethered cable with a non-removable JEVS (CHAdeMO 50kW), CCS (Combo 50kW), or Tesla (50-120 kW) vehicle connectors.

As a recent development, rapid AC chargers are relatively rare and are only used in a few locations in the UK. As of early 2017, there were only 642 rapid AC connectors available nationally. They work on a rapid alternating current and can supply up to 43 kW of power. It typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes for an electric vehicle to reach an 80% charge. Due to their high power, all units use a secured cable with a fixed type two Mennekes vehicle connector.
As most slow chargers are shifting to fast and rapid units, you can look forward to an efficient and speedy future with your carbon conscious car.

Importance of destination charging points

Electric Vehicles have been on our roads for a very long time, yet today there is a raise in the popularity of EV. The demand for electric drive vehicles, whether it be a hybrid, plug in hybrid or all-electric, will continue to climb as consumers look for ways to save money at the pump. With this high demand and more EV’s on our roads, it is now extremely important that we have more charging points in relevant locations. Therefore, EV charging infrastructure service provider, Franklin Energy are working alongside Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), financial and profession service firm to propose more destination charging points are installed.

The car parks of hotels, restaurants, shopping centres and resorts are in need of electric vehicle charging points for the legislation that the UK government must meet 80% reduction in carbon emission by 2050. The UK also have 1 million forecasted sales for plug in vehicles by the end of 2020 and with the statics standing at a 10:1 ratio of electric vehicles to fast charging points and a 50:1 ration of electric vehicles to rapid charging points, there is an obvious need for more EV destination charging points to meet the amount of EV’s on our roads. Currently the EV pioneer has a network of more than 100 locations for destination charging points in the UK along with more than 30 locations for ‘superchargers’ which charge its cars in minutes rather than hours. “If you haven’t got EV charging points in your car park, people simply wont come. The agent is predicting that 75% of car parks will have charging points for EV’s by 2025,” says Paul Gallagher, car parking and road side consultant in the JLL’s team.

Franklin were responsible for launching the UK’s first privately funded charging network in March 2016 with Q Park UK. They are now naturally keen to expand their charging network with new location partners to meet the demand they encountered during their initial phase. Franklin are now looking to deploy a phased roll-out of fast charging points, initially starting with 2 (dual) charging points per site and then eventually look to install accelerate the number of charging points installs per site from 2017-2021. The sites will be determined by Franklin in discussion with JLL and Frankin Energy will supply the EV charging infrastructure and subsequent support with no upfront Capex cost to JLL. Charging points will be operated using market leading cloud based software provided by Charge and Drive, this will allow JLL to access the live data feed to the Franklin network at any time to check its status and network performance.

Franklin are also working closely with advertising companies in the hope that in the near future they can install charging points with integrated advertisement screens, building services and technologies around the network will help to maximise utilisation and create new revenue streams for both JLL and Franklin, but for now Franklin are working alongside JLL to roll out charging points in new developments.